Defensive Score Sheet: Ohio State @ Michigan State

It wasn't a tale of two halves for the Spartans against the Buckeyes. It was the tale of pre-Dawson injury and post-Dawson injury.

When Branden Dawson tore his ACL with 10:16 left in the first half, MSU held a 24-11 lead. Up to that point, Dawson had held William Buford to just four points (two coming on the foul shots following the injury and the other two coming when Draymond Green fouled Buford on a jump shot attempt early in the half).

From that point on, the Buckeyes outscored the Spartans 61-46 and Buford added 21 more points, finishing the game with 25.

The final two points, of course, came on an 18-footer with 1.0 left on the clock. While MSU had Keith Appling, its best on-ball defender switch to Buford (from Craft) after a screen, the height disadvantage was a key factor in Buford's Jordanesque shot. There's no doubt Dawson would have guarded Buford for most of the game, including the final seconds if healthy. Had that happened, Buford probably doesn't go off for 25 and a last-second jumper might not have meant anything.

Nevertheless, the sequence of events can't be changed and the Elite Eight-looking battle finished as arguably the best Big Ten game of the season.

Below is MSU's Defensive Score Sheet for the game.

In-depth explanations are in this post, but here is a cliff notes version:
  • Min - Minutes played
  • DREB - Defensive Rebounds
  • FM - Forced field goal miss (includes blocks)
  • FTO - Forced Turnover (steals, charges taken)
  • FFTA - Forced missed Free Throw Attempt
  • DFGM - Allowed Defensive Field Goal Made
  • DFTM - Allowed Free Throw Made
  • DRtg - Defensive Rating (Gives players credit for stops and scoring possessions)
*The DRtg is most important part of a defensive score sheet as it is the analog of an offensive rating. If a player was on the floor for 100 of his team's defensive possessions, the DRtg calculates the number of points the opposition would score.

Michigan State didn't play terrible defensively. Despite allowing 72 points in a 71-possession game, MSU was going up against another elite and efficient offense. Outside of Buford, no other Buckeye really hurt the Spartans. However, with Buford taking over the show and Sullinger getting a very hard earned 14 points, it was just enough.

Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix both did a great job on Sullinger, forcing him to catch balls outside the paint. While he did catch a few feeds in the paint, most of the time Sullinger had to catch the ball 3-5 feet outside the lane and back his way in with dribbles that allowed for potential turnovers. 

Regardless, MSU's loss allowed the Buckeyes and the Wolverines to claim a part of the Big Ten Championship. Had Buford's shot missed the the Spartans won in overtime it would have been an outright regular season Big Ten crown. If there is any justice both teams will have a rubber match to decide a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament in the Big Ten Tournament title game.